Jul 07 2017

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Paul Trump: Attack of the Republican Decepticons

Does anyone remember the “reformicons”? A couple of years back there was much talk about a new generation of Republicans who would, it was claimed, move their party off its cruel and mindless agenda of tax cuts for the rich and pain for the poor, bringing back the intellectual seriousness that supposedly used to characterize the conservative movement.

But the rise of the reformicons never happened. What we got instead was the (further) rise of the decepticons — not the evil robots from the movies, but conservatives who keep scaling new heights of dishonesty in their attempt to sell their reverse-Robin Hood agenda.

Consider, in particular, Republican leaders’ strategy on health care. At this point, everything they say involves either demonstrably dishonest claims about Obamacare or wild misrepresentations of their proposed replacement, which would — surprise — cut taxes for the rich while inflicting harsh punishment on the poor and working class, including millions of Trump supporters. In fact, there’s so much deception that I can’t cover it all. But here are a few low points.

Eugene Robinson: Trump’s dangerous thirst for a clash of civilizations

“A little learning is a dangerous thing,” wrote the poet Alexander Pope. Three centuries later, Pope’s aphorism perfectly — and dangerously — describes President Trump’s understanding of history as a zero-sum clash of civilizations in which “the West” can triumph by imposing its will.

The speech Trump delivered Thursday in Warsaw’s Krasinski Square might have been appropriate when Britannia ruled the waves and Europe’s great powers held dominion over “lesser” peoples around the globe. It had nothing useful to say about today’s interconnected world in which goods, people and ideas have contempt for borders. [..]

The correct response to the terrorism threat, which is real, is to isolate it as an abomination that is as much a grievous insult to Islam as to any other faith — and that has taken the lives of far more Muslims than non-Muslims. The wrong response is to posit that “the West” is besieged by, and therefore at war with, a hostile civilization. That’s a fight in which everyone loses.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Penn And Stein: Two Rich Democratic Hacks Peddling Lousy Advice

“I mean, have you seen the other guys?”

That was one of the slogans recently proposed by Democratic Party strategists, presumably in a lighthearted way. But the joke, if that’s what it was, reflects an underlying belief among party leaders that Democrats should not take strong positions or moral stands on the issues that affect people’s lives. That belief was reflected in the other, presumably more serious suggestions, which were equally free of content or principle:

“Resist and Persist.” “She Resisted, We Persisted.” “Make Congress Blue Again.”

Where was the call to restore economic justice, rebuild the middle class, raise wages, end pointless wars, or protect the women and people of color who live under the daily threat of oppression and assault?

They fell down the big hole in the center of the Democratic Party.

Catherine Rampell: The reason Republican health-care plans are doomed to fail

Sometimes, in some weird markets, too much consumer choice can be a bad thing.

Unfortunately for Republicans, health insurance happens to be one of those weird markets.

Republicans believe the problem with the health-care system is that Americans are forced to buy too much insurance, in plans that are too prescribed. Their solution is to give consumers more choices for what kinds of plans (including no plan at all) they can buy. [..]

And who doesn’t like options?

Choice is as American as apple pie, a core perk of living in a capitalist society. We are free to choose whatever car or yogurt we want, from an enormous menu of colors, features, flavors and prices, and economists (generally) believe we’re happier for it.

But the health insurance market has some distinctive properties that mean too many choices can lead the whole market to unravel. This would leave nearly everyone — consumers, insurers and health-care providers — much worse off.

Why? The answer is somewhat counterintuitive. So counterintuitive, in fact, that the economists who figured it out won Nobel Prizes for the insight. Let’s take it step by step.